Anthony Stephan House, who was killed March 2 in the first of a series of bombings in Austin, was a father and a graduate of Texas State University. According to high school friends, he was quiet, humble and self-assured, even at a young age.
“It was always a no-small-talk-type conversation with him,” said high school friend Kevin Cotton, who now lives in Fort Worth. “I liked that about him.”
Cotton ran track with House, who went by Stephan, and said the 39-year-old was a talented athlete. He was also a quiet guy who was well-liked.
“I’ve never seen him out there acting extroverted,” Cotton said. “He was still cool, though. Everybody knew him.”
House attended Pflugerville High School in the '90s, and he received a degree in finance from Texas State University in 2008. He worked as a project manager for Texas Quarries until February 2017, according to the company. Friends said he had an interest in real estate.
According to news reports, House was married and had an 8-year-old daughter.
Since House’s death, three more bombs have exploded throughout Austin. On March 12, 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed and his mother was injured. Hours later, a 75-year-old woman was seriously injured in a second bombing. On Sunday, an explosion in Southwest Austin sent two young men to the hospital.
KUT was not able to reach House’s family, although his brother said Monday he would be speaking on behalf of the family soon. House’s stepfather, Freddie Dixon, told The Washington Post last week that he thought the first two bombings, which killed and injured members of black families, were racially motivated.
“My diagnosis: Number one, I think it’s a hate crime. Number two, somebody’s got some kind of vendetta here,” the retired pastor and civil rights advocate told The Post.
“It’s not just coincidental,” Dixon said. “Somebody’s done their homework on both of us, and they knew what they were doing.”
Held In 'High Regard'
Friends said House’s silence was never because he was afraid to speak up or easily intimidated.
“You may not think he’s paying attention, but I do think he’s assertive and kind of reading the situation … taking it all in,” said Jeff Lewis, another high school friend who now lives in Houston. He and House were on a track relay team with two other boys in high school, and the group won the district title.
House’s older brother, Corey, was murdered in 1994. Lewis said House soldiered the loss with a maturity he had difficulty understanding as a teenager.
“Being a freshman in high school, we’re still becoming ourselves at that point,” Lewis said. “For something so tragic to take place, I found him to be very resilient and not so much bitter, but focusing on the positive and moving forward. That’s not something I could have done at that age. … I really held him in high regard and respected him for how he handled that.”
Greg Padgitt, who also attended Pflugerville High, said he had recently reached out to House to help him with a mentoring program this summer aimed at connecting young children with successful black businessmen in the area.
“We were going to start going into the schools and just mentoring boys and girls who really don’t have a male figure in their life,” he said.